Christmas Musings in Covid times

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A year ago today, I wrote a reflection from verses in Habakkuk. I did not know then that a few months after, COVID19 would hit the world. God’s Word is always timely. As it was then, it is today and forever will be Truth!

Habakkuk’s lament and prayer (written on Christmas Day, 2019)

Habakkuk is one of the minor prophets whose prophecy started with a complaint and ended with praise. The first 4 verses of the book could sound like the scenario of any country on earth.. even where I am now.

Habakkuk 1
1 The prophecy that Habakkuk the prophet received.
2 How long, Lord, must I call for help,
but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
but you do not save?
3 Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and conflict abounds.
4 Therefore the law is paralysed,
and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
so that justice is perverted.

Yet the ending verses of Habakkuk are one of the most encouraging and comforting words I love in the books of the prophets.

In spite of the dire circumstances of life, in the face of seemingly unsurmountable challenges he faced, Habakkuk prayed and praised his Lord. He declared with much conviction his joy and trust in the Sovereign Lord.

Habakkuk 3
1 A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet. On shigionoth.
2 Lord, I have heard of your fame;
I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord.
Repeat them in our day,
in our time make them known;
in wrath remember mercy.
16 I heard and my heart pounded,
my lips quivered at the sound;
decay crept into my bones,
and my legs trembled.
Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity
to come on the nation invading us.

Who would wait patiently for disaster? Disaster on who? The nation invading the Israel was Babylon. Babylon was a wicked nation whom God used to judge Israel. (1:6) Habakkuk looked to the day when God would judge Babylon for its wickedness as well.

17 Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Saviour.

Verse 17 lists the bad and sad realities which surround Habakkuk – he could see nothing good all around him, Fig, vine, olive, sheep and cattle were all staples in his time. To be without all of these means to be in total disaster in dire circumstances. YET amidst the gloomy hard places in life, he chose to celebrate in the Lord. He chose to rejoice in the Lord – just like what Paul wrote in Philippians. How could he do that? Because the joy of the Lord is his strength – reminds me of another verse from Nehemiah 8:10.

Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Nehemiah spoke these words in response to the people’s lament upon their sins. They were crying because they realised how rebellious and disobedient they were to the commandments of God.

Habakkuk 3
19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights. (NIV)
19 The Lord God is my strength,
And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet,
And makes me walk on my high places. (NASB)

The feet of a deer are good for scaling the heights of rocky mountains.
A hind is a female deer that can place her back feet exactly where her front feet stepped. Not one inch off! She is able to run with abandonment! In times of danger, she is able to run securely and not get “off track.” The hind is able to scale unusually difficult terrain and elude predators.
(Taken from…/what-is-the…)

By my own strength, I cannot walk on high places when the way is rough, stony and steep. Many things in life are beyond my control. Realities in life are unavoidable but how I choose to respond to challenges in the journey sets me in the right attitude how I go through them.

Though the fig tree does not bud, there are no grapes in the vines, the olive crop fails, the fields produce no food… even when I cannot see any good of the work I’ve done, even when there is no reward, no fruit for all my labour, even when I feel unappreciated, even when there is seemingly nothing good to be happy about…

I will rejoice in the Lord. I will be joyful in the Lord. I will choose joy. It might not be easy. It is not about being a masochist – enjoying the suffering. It is choosing to trust the goodness of the Lord. It is trusting that the Sovereign Lord is my strength. He gives me strength. He enables me to climb the heights – just as He created the hind with feet to walk on steep, stony, even stormy heights.

2019 is about to end. It was a year filled with highs and lows, joy and grief, victories and failures – the ups and downs of the journey of life. I look forward to 2020 in hope, faith and love because the Sovereign Lord is my strength. He makes my feet like the hind’s. The Lord God makes me walk on high places. Praise His name!

Today is Christmas, 2020 – the year of COVID19.
Because the Sovereign Lord is my strength, I look forward STILL to 2021 in HOPE by FAITH to live LOVE.. so help me God.

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